One of the greatest things about sports is the myriad emotions it can inspire. I think one of the many reasons I love it so deeply is that for all its drama, for every time I can remember elation, anger, joy, or frustration, it almost never brings me to tears. Which is always so memorable to me when it does. I remember being on-air at a Fort Collins radio station when news of Magic Johnson’s AIDs revelation broke over AP Newswire. I mumbled my way through the rest of my shift and tried to get it all out during the commercial breaks. I still can’t tell someone the “and then Joe Sakic turns and immediately hands Ray Bourque the Stanley Cup” story without getting at least a little choked up. The car horns honking all night after the Broncos first Super Bowl win had me awake all night with a lump in my throat, not in annoyance.

No, I am not Dick Vermeil. Those teary moments above are 50% of the cry-worthy sports moments I can remember, period. Which was what made Tuesday such a momentary embarrassment. I was in the middle of a work meeting on camera when I saw a news flash on my phone that Vin Scully had passed away.

Pro tip: Phones facing away during the work meetings, all. Dangit.

Happily, there were less than ten minutes in my meeting, and I suddenly experienced some “camera issues” right as my part of the presentation was wrapping up anyway. I was certain I’d made it through, when a co-worker reached out to ask if I was okay. I explained myself, and he (kindly) told me he was sure no one else had noticed.

Vin Scully was the voice that originally inspired me to have anything to do with storytelling in sports. The guy that inspired people like Chris Berman and Joe Buck and a litany of others to let silence tell the story in its moment. I remember reading a Vin quote in the Los Angeles Times when I was a kid that the remarkable Rick Reilly used in his moving tribute to Vin this week:

“I don’t really do play-by-play. I do conversation.”

For me, as a five-year old who had recently moved to the big city with his new stepdad, the Dodgers were one of the tools he used to bond with me, and have a common conversation. Listening to Vin with the man who became my second dad was one of the true joys around that part of my life. When we didn’t go to games – I actually got to meet Mr. Scully once when we went very early – we’d listen on the radio. Sometimes, we’d be listening to him on the radio when we were supposed to already BE at the game, due to L.A.’s notorious traffic. If anyone could soothe you from needing to be in your seat with a Dodger Dog right-damned-now, it was the velvet-voiced Vin doing something like reminding you about some odd trivia fact, throwing out a witty observation, or simply telling you about the fine fuel at your local 76 gas station. Vin was so entertainingly smooth, he could soothe even the savage mobile Angeleno. We loved him so much, we’d put the radio on top of the TV when we watched the game from home. I know so many baseball fans who did.

Scully understood his role in the stories he was telling, was expert in telling them, and was a good and wonderful human over and above it all. Any tribute I could pay to him would be derivative of the dozens of incredible pieces shared by the many many people he influenced over the years. He was a giant of a man and a storyteller, setting a record with a single organization, telling the Dodgers story, and often additionally the national baseball story for a whopping 67 years, from the time he became an adult until his retirement at 88.

More than anything, a five-year-old kid jumped up from inside me a few days ago and had a solid cry. A five-year-old who had recently discovered that ketchup and mustard COMBINED on a hot dog as long as his forearm was nothing short of genius, that this new fella who was teaching him about baseball might not be such a bad sort of a second dad, and that the guy narrating the evening to us on the radio it all the way home while I fell asleep – finally at peace – must drink honey for a living. Thanks for the words, pauses, and witticisms, Vin Scully. The silence you taught us all to leave in the right moments was a gift. The silence you leave behind is simply deafening.

Author

Mike Olson is a weekly columnist for DNVR. The Colorado State University alum was born and raised in Fort Collins and has been writing about Denver sports for the last eight years. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he has an unhealthy addiction to In-n-Out Burgers and a healthy aversion to the Lakers.

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